Rome, Italy has been described as one of the most historically-rich destinations in the world by historians, archaeologists and scholars in various fields of study.
The capital city of Italy was also the center of the Roman Empire, which ruled throughout southern Europe and around the Mediterranean Sea from roughly 600 B.C. until around the 5th century A.D.
Rome is full of structures that have survived the elements and changing empires over the centuries, as well as a number of buildings that have more modern origins.
In this article, we will examine 10 of the most famous landmarks in Rome and review some of the details about their origin and purpose, as well as the architects behind each structure.
Famous Landmarks in Rome
There is little argument that the Colosseum is the most historic landmark in the city of Rome, Italy. It was once the center of a wide range of entertainment for Roman citizens who visited the Colosseum to witness sporting events, performances of all types, and also gruesome executions.
This massive, oval-shaped structure is located in the center of Rome just east of the Roman Forum, which used to be a bustling marketplace for merchants and traders of all kinds of goods in the ancient world.
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The Colosseum is believed to have been constructed under the rule of Vespasian around 72 to 75 A.D.
Most of the construction material, labor and other costs for the Colosseum project was paid for using spoils taken from the Jewish-Roman War in 70 A.D. in which the Roman forces conquered the Judean capital city and plundered its ancient temple along with all goods stored inside.
Today, much of the Colosseum’s northern side is still intact, but the southern half was severely damaged by a major earthquake that happened in 1349.
One of the most ancient and famous landmarks found in Rome i the Pantheon. This large, elegantly-designed building was constructed during the height of the Roman Empire’s ascent to becoming the most dominant civilization in the known world in the 1st century B.C.
The Pantheon is located in the center of the Italian capital city in a place where visitors from the nearby Tiber River would be able to easily access the temple. According to Greek translations for the word “Pantheon,” it basically translates to “Temple of all the gods.”
The Pantheon was constructed on the site of an already-existing center of worship that had been in use for centuries earlier than 126 A.D. when the Pantheon, as we know it today, was finished and dedicated by emperor Hadrian.
The earlier temple is thought to have been built during the reign of Augustus and commissioned by Marcus Agrippa at some point between 27 B.C. and 14 A.D.
Today, the Pantheon still retains its original layout and design with many of the carvings and stone relief artwork which is what makes it one of the greatest landmarks in Italy.
3. Trevi Fountain
One of the biggest tourist attractions in present-day Rome is a building that has held that distinction for more than two centuries.
The Trevi Fountain is a structure that was built with an immaculate design during the 18th century in the middle of the center of one of Rome’s historic districts where De ‘Crocicchi Street, Poli Street and Delle Muratte Street each meet together. It’s name is derived from the fact that it was built in the Trevi district of Rome.
Construction of this well-known landmark began in 1732 and it was built under the supervision and planning of Nicola Salvi, a lesser-known architect to those outside of Rome, but a designer who became famous for the completion of this project in 1762.
It is one of the city’s great landmarks due to the incredible level of detail that went into planning and producing the design, as well as the fact that the water in the fountain is fed by the Aqua Virgo, which is one of the few remaining Roman aqueducts in the city today.
4. St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is recognized as one of the most famous churches in the Roman Catholic faith, as well as one of the great historic landmarks found in the city of Rome, Italy.
It was built during the Italian Renaissance era when the production of beautiful and noteworthy art and architecture was at an all-time high for the city.
St. Peter’s Basilica is located in Vatican City and is the main tourist attraction to those visiting the epicenter of the Cathlolic faith, as well as those who venture into Rome to view some of its architectural wonders.
The church is said to have been designed by Pope Nicholas V, who later worked with Pope Julius II to replace the already existing St. Peter’s Basilica that was built in the same location under Roman emperor Constantine the Great during the 4th century A.D.
St. Peter’s Basilica is well-known for its beauty and elaborate design, both inside and out as it features a number of famous sculptures and other pieces of artwork.
5. Roman Forum
One of the major attractions for those visiting the city of Rome in search of ancient ruins is the Roman Forum. This once-great, sprawling marketplace was a complex of massive buildings with columns and arches that has now become a major landmark for Rome.
The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum that is surrounded by ruins from buildings that have since collapsed and the bricks or stone have also been repurposed for other structures in the city.
The Roman Forum is believed to have been constructed long before the establishment of the Roman Empire as archaeologists have found evidence of pottery shards and other items dating back to the end of the Bronze Age around 1000 B.C.
The many different structures within the Roman Forum were built over the course of several centuries as the rulers of the Roman Empire were continually growing and changing with the empire itself.
6. Vatican Museums
Vatican City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, as well as one of the most frequently-visited religious locations in the world.
Some of the major landmarks within the city of Rome and Vatican City are the Vatican Museums. The museums contain a massive collection of books, articles and many other contents pertaining to the Catholic faith that have been collected from all over the world.
Construction on the Vatican Museums began in the late 15th century and the project was completed in 1506.
These museums are brimming with historical and artistic items and visitors can get a first-hand glimpse of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling when walking through the museum’s entrance and exits.
7. Spanish Steps
Our list of the most famous landmarks in Rome, Italy would not be complete without mentioning the Spanish Steps that are located near the Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza Trinità dei Monti.
These steps guide visitors from the Fontana della Barcaccia up to both of the Piazzas and are considered to be a well-known marker for visitors to find their way around this particular part of the city.
These steps were built from 1723 to 1725 and were designed by, Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi, two prominent Italian architects from the time period.
8. Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is arguably one of the most well-known structures in all of Rome due to the fact that Michelangelo painted one of his greatest masterpieces on its ceiling which he titled The Last Judgment.
While the building is more easily recognized for its interior contents, the exterior’s design and architectural style makes it a unique landmark for those traversing the streets of Rome.
The Sistine Chapel sits in the middle of Vatican City in Rome and was built during the time of Pope Sixtus IV, who saw the building’s completion in 1481.
The Sistine Chapel is one of the most-visited churches in Europe, drawing millions of visitors each year.
9. Piazza Navona
The Piazza Navona is recognized as one of Rome’s most famous landmarks by local resident and visitors alike as it features a distinct obelisk.
It’s also home to some of the city’s most elaborately-designed and magnificent fountains such as the Fontana del Moro, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, and the Fountain of the Four Rivers.
The Piazza Navona is a large, open area that dates back to the 1st century A.D. in Rome. It is located near some of the city’s oldest ancient buildings such as the Colosseum and the Pantheon near the Tiber River.
10. Castel Sant’Angelo
One of Rome’s most famous landmarks that can be seen from a wide range of vantage points throughout the city is the Castel Sant’Angelo.
This large castle-like structure’s name translates from Italian to English as Castle of the Holy Angel.
It is best-known as the resting place of the emperor Hadrian and is believed to have been built around 139 A.D.